Cunning is the art of concealing our own defects
and discovering other peoples' weaknesses.
and discovering other peoples' weaknesses.
Pergrande had quite the border patrol. Mercury had been warned about this ahead of time, of course. The staff at Silver Wolf made it very clear that this particular job, while somewhat simple, was actually rather dangerous. It seemed Pergrande had a reputation for being flat out magic-phobes, to the point where anyone caught in their country with magic was liable to be arrested at best, executed on the spot at worst. Such knowledge wasn’t exactly intimidating to her, necessarily. Just sounded like home to her, though the things that would get her killed at home were vastly different reasons than simply possessing magic. But the truth was that Mercury really didn’t have much to hide because at the end of the day she operated more with tools than with magic.
Of course, this hadn’t made getting into the country a whole lot easier. They were heavily suspicious of outsiders, and everyone was put through a pretty thorough search before being allowed to cross the border. When asked her reason for visiting, she’d told them a number of truths strung together to form a believable tale: Mercury wasn’t from around this area of Earthland, and she was traveling to learn more about the various cultures and societies that presided on the continent of Ishgar. Since Pergrande was the ‘largest, most powerful, and highly regarded’ country on this side of the planet, well of course she had to make time to learn all about them. Or at least, that was what she told the proud soldiers to fluff up their egos and make them sympathetic to her. It wasn’t long after that she’d been released and allowed to go on her way, with a stern warning that if she was caught doing anything illegal she would be held liable for it.
“These people really need to lighten up,” she murmured to herself with a light smirk as she walked away. The Xocili had a feeling that these guards were going to make her job a hell of a lot harder, but that knowledge excited her a bit. Mercury enjoyed a challenge, and if they spiced things up and made her work a little harder to get what she had come for, then it would just make her success all the sweeter in the end.
The problem was going to be tracking down the location of the artifact in question that she’d been instructed to liberate. Per the details of the job, no one actually knew what it did. The only thing she had to go off of was that it held some kind of inherent magical significance, which meant it was likely locked up somewhere and guarded under lock and key. So where would a government like Pergrande hide such things? At the palace, where it would be most secure but also near their royal family members? Or would they put it somewhere further away to protect their monarchs, but in an area where it was potentially more vulnerable to theft? This search was probably going to take a while.
In the end, she surmised that the most likely scenario was the latter. Their apparent arrogance as a nation and military power was second only to their fear of the magical. It hadn’t taken long for Mercury to dig up the history behind Pergrande’s loathing of magic: a queen that had been bespelled. Thus, it made more logical sense to keep an artifact like the one she was searching for as far from the royal palace as was feasible. One of their military bases seemed most likely.
The first several days of her trip were spent holed up in a hotel room with her electronics, pinpointing the different outposts that the military had and digging into which ones were sanctioned for guarding dangerous property. Thankfully, her technology was far more advanced than anything she’d run into so far on Earthland, so she wasn’t worried about being traced -- though she took extra precautions to prevent it just in case. Once she’d narrowed her list down, it was just a matter of confirming which held the artifact. She had a vague description of it to work with, so she would mostly likely recognize it when she saw it.
Breaking into every single outpost to look for it wasn’t ideal, however. It would draw much more attention to her than she wanted, and leave a trail for them to follow back to her. Mercury wanted to get it and get out. So what she did instead was use her advanced technology to quietly hack into the security feeds of the different locations, stealthily enough that her intrusion wouldn’t give off little more than a brief, unalarming surge in broadband usage before dipping back down to normal; a phenomenon that really wasn’t all that uncommon to begin with. Once she’d located the cameras that were in rooms containing contraband, Mercury set their footage to loop on the recorders so as not to raise suspicions as she used the camera to search the rooms for her target.
The first three outposts she searched yielded no fruit. The fourth, however, she hit the jackpot. As she calmly chowed down on a bowl of noodles, the camera she was watching at this location showed her an item that looked very much like what had been described to her. “Bingo,” Mercury whispered to herself with a pleased grin. “Alright, time to get this party started.”
Typing away on her computer, she tapped into her drone that she had hidden on the Bellum side of the border. The drone responded immediately to her remote access, taking to the air high enough that most people wouldn’t notice it with the naked eye. It was late in the evening by the time the little machine made it to the coordinates she’d given, the darkness of night giving her the perfect cover. Thanks to the little motors that kept it running silently, it wasn’t interrupted at all as it used its various scanners to generate a detailed blueprint of the building, as well as to locate with infrared where people were located inside.
“Oh, very smart,” Mercury cooed as she realized that the contraband room was kept firmly underground behind several thick inches of steel. Too bad metal of any kind was hardly a barrier for her these days. Flipping a setting on the drone, she instructed it to land somewhere outside the military grounds where it proceeded to dig a hole deep through the ground toward the back wall of the vault. With her programming still looping previously recorded data on their security monitors, the soldiers were none the wiser as the drone -- which was an extension of her own body -- easily absorbed the thick steel into itself until it had formed a hole in the wall large enough for it to easily pass through.
Once she was inside, stealth no longer mattered. Mercury had enough control over their systems to stall them long enough to do what she needed, thus the drone flew through the room, triggering every sensor it passed along the way, before stopping at the artifact in question. As alarms blared throughout the post and soldier were violently woken from their slumber to a code red alert, the drone opened a compartment from which little precision arms picked up the artifact and tucked it safely away inside its body. “What else should I take?” she asked herself, feeling festive as the soldiers desperately tried to get past the door she’d overridden shut. A lot of things in here were probably quite valuable. Or useful.
Still controlling the drone, she hovered it around the room and selected a few more things at random to tuck away before finally directing the drone back out through the wall, out of the tunnel, and up into the open air. Once it was high enough that it wouldn’t be noticed by anyone, she input coordinates for the device to make its way back to the Silver Wolf guild, where it would wait for her return. After that, it was a simple matter of packing her things and heading back home. One successful heist under her belt, and she hadn’t even had to leave her room for anything more than food!
She as quite pleased with herself.